How Will Automated Trucking Change Our World?

On Behalf of | Jun 7, 2022 | Firm News, Trucking and Transportation

If the current trajectory continues, automated long-haul trucking will become widespread in the next few years. While there is fierce opposition to this shift from labor unions as well as people concerned about safety issues, and nothing has changed yet, it is worth understanding how your company may be affected by automation in the logistics sector.

Increased Efficiency

First and foremost, automated long-haul trucking would vastly increase your company’s efficiency. Trucks – currently limited by drivers’ federally mandated working hours – would not need breaks aside from refueling.

Additionally, fuel use and efficiency may also increase for two reasons. First, automated trucks will likely spend less on fuel given their ability to more closely monitor and calibrate usage than a human driver can. Second, fuel efficiency in response to climate change may introduce more energy-saving technology.

Regulatory Changes

As mentioned above, current regulation revolves around the human limits of drivers and the technology they currently use. This will need to change with the introduction of driverless vehicles. Regulators will need to consider questions such as:

  • Who is liable for crashes, the trucking company or the programmer?
  • Will drivers still need to be available in the cab?
  • Will each state implement unique regulations on autonomous driving?
  • Will driverless vehicles face the exact weight limit requirements?
  • What fail-safes will be installed in these vehicles, if any?

The creation and implementation of regulations to address these issues will likely require input from many disparate sources.

An Untested Legal Landscape

However, despite these radical changes, a driverless trucking industry represents a fundamental legal shift that we do not yet fully understand. Automated trucks may be less prone to accidents but not completely crash-free. The complex liability chain will be tested rigorously by the legal system. Attorneys with combined experience in trucking and transportation as well as product liability claims will be best equipped to help clients navigate this new terrain.